September Volunteer Highlight
IOCC Emergency Kits
Presvytera Flora Moraitis
By Presvytera Flora Moraitis
A few years ago I was searching for a Christmas Shoebox Program in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. As I was searching on-line and calling all the organizations that our Archdiocese participates with, I came across the IOCC Emergency Kits Program. I was instantly taken and felt that my search was in fact not truly for a Christmas Shoebox Program, but to help those children in need through the IOCC's Emergency Kit Program.
In using the computer, pamphlets and a phone call to the Outreach Coordinator of IOCC in Maryland, I accumulated information to speak with the Priest of my community, Fr. Dimitrios Moraitis. There was a feeling of importance to try to help these children in need. We spoke at length and came to the following: I had received his blessing to speak on IOCC Sunday about the organization and their Emergency Kits Program, and to ask our parishioners to help me to help the children in need by donating an Emergency Kit of their choice.
Although I had received the blessing of my parish Priest to do this, it was not without the idea that there was much work ahead of me. First, it was necessary to get all the information prepared to properly inform people. Next was figuring out the cost of each Emergency Kit – there were many stores and countless websites visited to find the best prices. All items were totaled and a cost for each was reached. This cost would include the items, shipping, shipping boxes, packing tape and tax. The items for each kit were then purchased and my daughters and I put them together and had them ready for IOCC Sunday. Next it was time to prepare the sermon. Much typing, reading and proofing went into this along with guidance from Fr. Dimitri.
IOCC Sunday had arrived. My daughters and I went to the Community Center at our church prior to services beginning. We took two rectangular tables and set up the IOCC Donation Table. On these tables were a television to play the IOCC DVD, the Emergency Kits opened and laid out each with a tag on top that told the name and the price of the kit, Thank You bags that were put together with items about the IOCC, a tri-fold display with IOCC information, and a special Thank You gift from me. Finally, there was a money box, a pen and a sheet of paper with each kit listed so that I could keep track of which Emergency Kit being donated.
When we were finished it was time for the Divine Liturgy to begin. We walked into church, lit our candles and sat in our pews. The folder with what I was going say was next to me. We sat in our pew and prayed. The Divine Liturgy then ended and the time had arrived for me to speak to everyone in the congregation. Fr. Dimitrios Moraitis introduced me and stated that I would be speaking about IOCC.
The speech began by letting them know how I came to be up there speaking to them that Sunday morning. Then the information was presented about IOCC. After was the introduction about the Emergency Kits and citing examples of how we sometimes take things for granted, but that these families think of them everyday, hoping for someone to help. Lastly, it was stated that they need only donate the kits, as the kits are already made and just need to be donated and sent. I thanked everyone and went back to my seat. The hard part was over. After the closing prayer by Fr. Dimitri, I went straight to coffee hour.
Not really knowing what to expect there was only one person present to help me. We were hopeful for at least twenty, maybe even 50 Emergency Kits being donated. Just thinking about it now while I am writing this makes my eyes tear. There was a line out the door of people wanting to help with the Emergency Kits. Our Thank You items were not enough. People asked me how they could help even more. My heart and spirit were overwhelmed! Close to 100 Emergency Kits had been donated. The families of our community showed an overwhelming outpouring of love and support. IOCC Sunday showed me that we can put the needs of others ahead of the needs of ourselves.
You may be wondering at this point what exactly the prices of the Emergency Kits are. They varied depending on the items. The Health Kit was $20, School Kit $20, Kids Kit $30, and Baby Kit $60. The price includes the items, any tax (if there was no tax exempt form), cost of shipping boxes and the cost of shipping the items from New York to Maryland.
The time it took to put the Emergency Kits together is two to three weeks as it takes time to purchase the items from stores and to receive items from on-line, along with the time it takes to put the Emergency Kits together, package them in the shipping boxes, label them and bring them to UPS to be shipped. All kits were double checked to be sure there were no items missing or duplicated, as each kit needs to be exactly the same. Any monies that were left after purchases were donated directly to the IOCC and sent in a separate envelope with a letter explaining where the money is from and what it is for.
The IOCC Emergency Kits is a very fulfilling and blessed ministry. Each year my kids ask me if it's time to put them together and families from our community are asking if they can help.
To learn more about IOCC Emergency Kits, visit www.iocc.org/kits
Presvytera Flora Moraitis and her husband, Fr. Dimitrios Moraitis, serve at the parish of St. Paraskevi in Greenlawn, NY.